Release: Word of the year

For 2018 I decided to write a bullet journal, which obviously didn’t last long. However, I liked looking back on the 10 or so pages I did do. They were all goals. Books I should read, movies I should see, things I should do. A list of friends I had already, as well as space to write in new friends I make along the way. I liked crossing out the boxes I drew about a year ago. I didn’t get to them all, but I got to quite a few.

On one of the pages, I wrote: Word of the Year: Renaissance.

I think I did quite a bit of that. Renaissance means “rebirth,” as I learned in 7th grade history, and I did try to be “reborn” as well as I could. Things truly have changed, and I do have a totally new life.

For 2019, I think my word of the year will be “Release.” I have changed my life for the better. Now, it is time to let go of all the pain of the past.

It is going to be a challenge, but a worthy one. I want to be able to forgive and forget, to move on, to let it go.

Hm. Let it go. I teared up the first time I saw that scene from Frozen. I watched it over and over until I knew all the words–and I was about 17. I was so inspired that this person could, well, let it go. Move on past her pain and her depression and her awful parents. Maybe she’s a good role model. A little “basic bitch” to look up to a Disney princess, but whatever. I’m done adjusting my personality to fit the molds of others.

I need to stop indulging in escapism and bottling up. I need to learn how to feel my feelings, acknowledge them, and let them go. I need to learn how to let go, how to move on, how to accept that people don’t change and things don’t change and all I can change is myself. I want to be able to let it all go. I want to be able to have my mind free of worry, both about the past and about the future.

My worrying is the biggest threat to my life. It threatens to ruin job and relationships all the time. I need to get a hold on it, and the best way to do that is to learn how to release.

Release. 2019. Release.

September

This is the exact day when I used to write, “Time to go wake up Green Day.”

As if “Green Day” was a person and as if “Wake Me Up When September Ends” isn’t about Billie Joe Armstrong’s dead father.

Ah, did you miss me? I’m a spark of sunshine in a dark world, huh?

 

Right now I’m in a library, a library that closes in an hour. I’ve been here for three hours and haven’t moved from this table in the center of everything. I’ve actually gotten a lot done. But not enough. Never enough.

 

Did I mention I’m a teacher, now? High school English, yeah. Starting off by covering a woman’s maternity leave. About fifty percent of the time I tell someone that they ask me when the baby’s due. I’m not the one with the baby. If I was, I wouldn’t be at work.

Sometimes people’s mouths move faster than their minds.

I’m starting Hamlet with my seniors tomorrow. I haven’t read Hamlet since I was a senior in high school. I was supposed to read it as a senior in college, but I figured I knew it well enough. I don’t think I know it well enough anymore.

I type fast and hard. The other library people keep glancing at me. Sorry. My fingers are silent to me. My thought-words drown them out.

I just uploaded all my Ireland pictures–pictures from a trip I took in July, almost three months ago. Yipes. Some things just get away from you. I wonder how many hours of YouTube bullshit I’ve watched since July. Probably a sickening amount.

On the plus side, my novel is truly, really, almost done. I mean DONE done, like ready to send to publishers done. I’ve “finished” 8 novels since I was 12, but this is the first novel I feel comfortable sending to a publisher. I’m terrified, lol.

“Terrified, lol” is how I’m explaining it to everybody.

Honestly, yeah. That sums it up. I’m terrified, lol. I’m scared I’m not good enough, lol. I’m hiding my fears in millennial internet slang, lol, to lighten the weight of my emotional load on the shoulders of my unsuspecting readers, lol.

I wonder if I’ll use the same pen name I use on this blog. Probably not, I’ll probably change it. Pen names are so hard. Do I go the gender-neutral initial route, or choose a good female name? Who knows.

The clock seems to go slower, here. There’s an art book for Solo: A Star Wars Story, and it’s still in plastic. No one is ever going to borrow that book. I wonder who ordered it.

Whenever I get back into blogging I realize how much I missed it. It’s so nice to journal out loud. And yes, lady by “New Non-Fiction,” I know my typing is loud. Sorry. It’s impossible to type quickly and quietly.

They probably think I’m playing a game or something. Heck, maybe I am.

 

How do people DO this art thing?! How am I supposed to deal? I never minded when college magazines would reject me because hey, they’re just as stupid about literature as I am, but a Big Boy Publisher? Damn, that will hurt. Of course I assume I’ll get rejected right out the gate.

I think it’s actually a good book, and that actually scares me more.

catch me if i fall

i feel as if i am a woman of polar opposites. i am fiercely strong, yet unendingly weak. i am a woman at peace,a woman at war. i am a person of introversion, a person of strength an inner depth…but i am so dependent.

i need others. i need someone to catch me when i fall. i depend so heavily on family and friends. i can’t feel alone. i go crazy if i feel alone.

obviously, i enjoy solitude. i like being physically alone. i mean mentally. i need to know i have a safety net, a web of friends. i need people who support me by kicking me with their heels to get me into a run. i need people who comfort me and life my hands in theirs and patter me with kisses and hold me like a cracked ornament.

i need people, i do. truly. does that make me a bad introvert? 🙂

i couldn’t survive alone. i dump my problems on those around me. without my friends, without this blog, without you, my problems would not get dumped, and they would sit in my head like a steaming pile of garbage, stinking and rotting and driving me out with their stench.

i am selfish.

i try to support. i try to hold others up, but my arms aren’t as strong as i want them to be, as they need them to be. i feel useless to others.

My joints are stiff with baseless anxiety.

July

When I’m writing this, it is just past midnight on July 1.

Holy shit. July.

When I was seven, I wrote a poem–my first, ever–and titled it July. When I was twelve, I set my first novel entirely in July. And now, in 2018, I head into my busiest July ever. Busier than all those Camp Nanos I can’t even entertain the possibility of this year. Busier than any job or camp or anything.

I start July with a day of packing and frantic emails, then a week in Ireland, then three weeks straight of teaching summer school English, then Newport Folk Festival.

Then finally, in August, I get a breath.

I’ve been trying to attune myself to reiki, to feel the chi universe energy in my fingers, to make myself relax, but my jaw clenches up anyway and my stomach knots itself up and my forehead is perpetually cinched. My mouth is ablaze with canker sores, my face a minefield of acne. My body handles stress nearly as bad as my mind does.

I feel silly. All I’ve wanted for months and months and months was a job, and now that I have one I feel stage fright. That’s my best way of putting it. I’m scared.

July was always such a magical time as a kid, a month I spent all year dreaming about and writing about and waiting for with all my simple heart. Now…

stagnant

I’ve said a thousand times that I only get back into blogging when my mental health begins to falter…well, my mental health seems rather delicate, if this is to be true.

Right now, however, I’m feeling rather stagnant. Treading water.

It was a full moon last night–not the night before this is published, but the night before I wrote this. I’m writing this on June 27. There was a more eloquent way to combine those two thoughts but I’m too burnt out to play with words at the moment.

I like full moons. I like how bright everything seems. How still everything feels. It is like you can hear everything from your heart to the mountains.

I can pack my entire life into a suitcase and a half. I know, I’ve tried. Everything I need, every sentimental token, all into a suitcase and a half.

I’m sorry. I know I’ve been writing poorly, and I know I’ve been being negative. I just feel bad burdening my loved ones with my nonsense. It’s easier to pile it up here, where at least if you’re reading it you’re reading it voluntarily.

i have overwhelmed myself again

and so i prep for a job i am under qualified for, using not enough time to do something too far out of reach.

i edit the novel months away from completion, i read the book a hundred pages from the end, i lounge to the sound of birds and coyotes, dozing to dreams of unfinished stories half watched or half imagined.

i listen to music halfheartedly, the hour-long compilations set to a mood, the pleading piano and weeping violin, my face wet and swollen, my hands clammy and too big for their weak wrists.

i am out of my wits.

i feel again as if i am walking down the plank, hot summer air whipping my clothes with the force of icy sea mist. i am voluntary. i am sacrifice. i am martyr for the cause of myself.

the greater good.

i leave things lowercase here. i leave my ring finger blank. it’s easier to think in grammerless terms when my mind, too, is riddled with run-on sentences. nothing in my head is in capital letters except my own voice.

i build a fortress out of phone books. i cry ink onto pages made of skin. i sit alone in a room painted green and feel locked in. i smell chlorine. it reminds me not of summer pools but of formaldehyde.

freckles and wrinkles

They hate their imperfections, those which I have always wanted. i wanted my normal brown hair, a bushy sheet like untamed wool, to curl, to frizz, to turn burnt orange or a pithy black.

i wanted my face to look like spilled paprika. i wanted my shoulders to pucker and pink in the sun. i wanted my eyes to be twinkling peridots, ringed with lines like cracked mud, crinkling up like a shriveling leaf with every laugh.

i like that smiles, too, scar you. i’ve always liked scars. i’ve always liked asking where they came from. oh, these cracks by my eyes? i smiled too hard, too long, too often.

i want my face to look lived in. i am tired of looking young, which may be naive to say, but it is how i feel. i wish to look old. i wish to look like an adult. i want people to see how much i smile but looking at my temples. i want to be scarred by joy, a monument of laughter.

blackheads pepper my nose where my freckles should be. wrinkles choose to appear between my eyebrows and across my forehead instead of at the corners of my eyes. i become a memorial of sadness.

reading what i’ve written

blogging is funny

this blog always gets so meta

i can’t go back in time

i can’t go back and read what i wrote here

not a year ago, not a day ago

it reeks of naiveté

it reeks of my former selves

lined up like dominoes in a cute light blue bow

talking about travel and stress and friends and whatever else

here i am early morning because i can’t sleep

and that’s nothing new, but maybe one day it will be old

like how the posts on this blog are all laughable to me, now

all so silly and ingenuous

i feel like a chemist

passing mercury and blood between test tubes

mouth open, eyes shielded

testing one thing and another

trying to make happiness pour out in a stream of flaxen yellow

maybe a teaspoon of this, maybe a pinch of that

maybe now it will work, and i will be happy

i’ve only found temporary cures, over the years

you have seen

metaphorical you

and metaphorical me

and plain old me

i still have those peace-sign earrings my oldest friends tease me about

from middle school

they matched my pants, and my bag. i was obsessed with peace

and still am, i suppose, but while back then it was a childish philosophy–

why can’t we all be kind to one another?

now it’s a plea for survival

an act of desperation

cutting off my arm to escape the boulder

peace, i beg

of course peace is not something that can be hunted down

it does not lurk behind tree trunks for one to capture

it hides in the leaves of a garden for you to find, suddenly, curled around your fingers

it hides between the covers of old, tattered books

it hides in the wells of my stomach and can only be drawn out by tea and meditation

and flower petals and kisses

and silence and music

and writing, and writing, and writing.

so no i can’t look back at this blog

it hurts to see when i was happy

it hurts to see when i was sad

i can’t look back. i must only go forward

and search for peace not in the past, but where i know it can be found

 

things i never told you

Basically, here’s a little tip about blogging–we don’t do it every day.

Haha, right?

I used to, back in the golden days, but now I write ten blog posts at once and schedule them a month in advance. I’m writing this on June 22 and it goes up July 15.

I don’t know why I’m breaking the glass for you like this. I have learned that sometimes it is best not to see the man behind the curtain. Sometimes it is best to not research clouds and flowers. Some things are better left a mystery.

Whatever.

By the time you read this, I have come home from Ireland, a trip I haven’t written about here at all, and have started teaching summer school, something else I haven’t written about. I’m a summer school teacher now. I’m home from Ireland, now.

What will things be like when this gets published, in 23 days? My life, once again, will have completely changed. It does that a lot, nowadays. Perhaps, though, I am due for some consistency. I have been offered a job: to long-term substitute an English class while a teacher is on maternity leave.

I’m so excited. I’m so terrified.

Before I have time to be scared of that, though, I have to be scared of teaching summer school…but, by the time you read this, I will have already taught half a week, so. Maybe it’s not so bad after all. I mean, I’ve already done it.

 

I want Ireland to change me like Norway did. Norway healed me in ways I didn’t know I could be healed. I want Ireland to not just help me heal, but help me thrive. I want to be able to fill my lungs with Irish air and fill my stomach with Irish beer and feel a sense of comfort and adventure and peace.

Why is it when I most want peace, I throw myself into a maelstrom?

Anna Peefer–a short story

This story has been in my “drafts” for over two years now. I’ve not got the energy to edit it over, but I’ll publish it here.

 

Anna Peefer went to Funland Extremepark every Saturday in June and July. She brought her nieces twice, but the other weeks she went alone, riding the nine roller coasters two or three times each and nothing else. She never got sick, or sick of riding. She’d buy a bag of kettle corn worth its weight in gold, munching on and off all day. She often jumped half the line, when attendants searched around for a single rider. No one at the park knew who she was. It was amazing. She was free.

Anna Peefer always went with her wild curls tied back as well as she could. She liked her hair in box braids but on the roller coasters they thrashed about and she was afraid of them getting caught in something, so in the summer she kept her hair loose and frizzy, tied back and out of her face. She liked to see the sky take up her whole vision as the cart tilted backward, all the blood rushing to the back of her head, her heels sliding against the metallic floors, her fingers tighter on the shoulder restraints than the restraints themselves were on her.

Then a swishing in her stomach, and the trees and Ferris wheel would come into view, bit by bit. Anna Peefer, on top of the world.

And then the fall.

She screamed at each fall, louder than is ever necessary, stretching her voice past its limits. She kept her eyes open, her hands tight, her feet clamped around her purse and the bag of popcorn, both threatening to fall out. After the fall, after the g-forces at the bottom of the dip make her feel heavy with relief and she took the first inhale in about ten seconds, the car erupting with laughs and quick shouts, giggling girls and boys pretending to almost fall out of the cart.

Anna Peefer’s mind, at this point in the ride, was already on which coaster she’ll get in line for next. After the big drop, the rest of the coaster was never really worth it.

The thrill of the climb, the fear of the fall. This is why her favorite coaster, the park’s most famous, was the Pink Panther. 150 feet tall and bubblegum pink, the coaster was a torturously slow climb, a steep drop, and a small loop around the area to slow down momentum. She waited in line, munching the popcorn, and was set for the second-next coaster (she was terrific at cart-math by now) when she almost bailed the ride completely.

The attendees at Funland Extremepark have a simple yellow polo as a uniform, meant to be worn with blue jeans and peppered throughout with pins, stickers, and Sharpie drawings to add character. The attendee checking everyone’s shoulder restraints had an elaborate Crusade Warrior design ironed on across his back, and there, right by Markallia Erqus and her warfairy was Anna Peefer’s signature.

She couldn’t for the life of her remember signing a bright yellow Funland Extremepark shirt—she signed about a thousand every convention she went to—but regardless of how little she remembered the shirt, the guy wearing it would remember her.

She fiddled with the twist tie on her popcorn. She’d been in line for quite awhile, and this was her favorite coaster. He probably wouldn’t make a scene. Besides, she thought, the wind making her loose hair tickle her back, he probably won’t recognize me. She couldn’t believe this had happened. She practically knew all of the attendants by sight, and now the first new employee all summer is a fan of Crusade Wars.

She got in the coaster about five minutes later. The guy checked each restraint, down the line. He seemed to falter on Anna Peefer’s, but she didn’t dare look up at him until the cart was beginning to move.

When she met his eye, his furrowed brow shot upward, disappearing behind his bangs. He grabbed a coworker by the elbow and whispered in his ear, making subdued hand motions down at his side, trying to keep from making a fuss. The coworker began scanning the coaster. Anna Peefer stared at the back of the seat in front of her.

“The game designer,” one of them whispered loud enough, and Anna Peefer closed her eyes.

“Please keep your hands and arms inside the vehicle at all times,” said the girl at the podium. She was also watching the two attendants.

Please, Anna Peefer thought as loudly as she could, glancing at the slits of sky through the ceiling boards. Don’t let the girl know Crusader Wars. Don’t let her be a gamer. Let her think the attendants are crazy. Please don’t let her say—”

“Enjoy the ride,” the podium girl said into the microphone. “And may heaven’s light illuminate your way.”

Anna Peefer snapped her eyes shut again. People in line were laughing, clearly getting the reference. Someone mispronounced her name as Anna Pfeiffer. The cart lurched.

“You can’t go here anymore,” said a tinny voice Anna Peefer thought she left at the entrance gate. She kept her eyes tight shut. “It’s too much, it’s too much. This stupid game follows you everywhere.”

The roller coaster lurched, and the warfairy, six inches tall with the wings of a dragonfly sprouting from her back, dove into the ponytail gathered at the nape of Anna Peefer’s neck. She dug her tiny claws into Anna Peefer’s skin.

“We gotta get off, the restraints are too tight,” the warfairy whined.

Anna Peefer cracked her knuckles one at a time. The coaster ticked its way up the first incline. The fairy screamed all the way up, her feet latched around Anna Peefer’s throat and holding tight. At the top of the peak, the fairy’s grip loosened, and Anna was free to scream. Anna screamed alone, everyone else holding their breath for the fall. She screamed so loud, and so high, for so long it hurt her. She could feel the rawness in her throat as the coaster sped down the hill. She sucked in the cold, biting air, riding the rest of the track in silence.